Every week, UGASports.com teams up with 11Alive.com to hand out grades to Georgia’s Georgia’s position groups. Here is the report card from the 24-10 win over South Carolina.
Jake Fromm excelled against the Gamecocks, completing 16 of 22 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns. The true freshman’s first score was a completion to wide receiver Javon Wims that will certainly end up on his highlight tape, as the gunslinger put the pass in a spot where only his receiver could make a play on it. Connecting with eight different receivers in the victory, Fromm’s passing prowess is seemingly more advanced than earlier in the year. It is clear offensive coordinator Jim Chaney trusts the young quarterback with the keys to the offense.
Running Backs: B+
While Georgia rushed for 242 yards on 51 attempts, it was not the running backs’ best performance this season. Nick Chubb was able to top the 100-yard mark with his last run of the game, and Sony Michel added a touchdown on the ground, but the unit didn’t have as many explosive plays or break as many tackles as we’ve become accustomed to seeing. Freshman D’Andre Swift finally looked to be human, gaining only 22 yards on five carries. South Carolina committed more resources to stopping the run than defending the pass. Despite that, the tailback group was still was integral in controlling the game’s time of possession against a tough Gamecock defensive line.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B
South Carolina’s defensive backs were no match for the depth at wide receiver for Georgia. Wims made a team-high five catches, and Terry Godwin led the Bulldogs with 53 receiving yards. Godwin did have a huge fumble early in the game, which made the Bulldogs miss out on scoring in the red zone for the first time in 32 tries this season. After only being targeted seven times against Florida, the wide receivers proved they can make plays when necessary.
Offensive Line: B-
Aside from yielding a single sack of Fromm, the offensive line never really allowed any pressure on the quarterback throughout the game. Although the running game wasn’t as dominant as in past games this season, the line certainly was a key component of an offense which held a time-of-possession advantage of nearly two-to-one. The South Carolina defensive line is no slouch, and D.J. Wonnum, Ulric Jones and Dante Sawyer combined for 22 tackles, seven of which were solo stops.
The Georgia offensive line was able to control the clock and keep Fromm upright but had more missed blocks than in recent weeks.
Defensive Line: B+
While individual stats are good, they sometimes do not tell the entire story—especially when it comes to defensive linemen. For example, Georgia’s leading tacklers on the line were Jonathan Ledbetter and David Marshall, who only tallied three tackles each. However, the unit as a whole, allowed just 43 rushing yards and 2.5 yards per carry. Without a running attack, the Gamecocks couldn’t move the ball, and therefore only had three drives of over five plays. Still, Georgia’s defensive line rarely got to the quarterback (only a combined 3.5 sacks all season by Georgia’s three-man front) or disrupted Jake Bentley’s pocket as there were no quarterback hurries for the day. Still, if the unit can continue to stop opposing running games, the lack of sacks is not as big an issue. However, if it struggles to stop the run, the lack of quarterback pressure could end up being an Achilles heel for the entire defensive unit.
Roquan Smith finished with the team high in tackles (9), sacks (1.5), and tackles for loss (1.5). The do-it-all linebacker was all over the field and should certainly be considered for All-American recognition. Doing a good job of filling in for the suspended Natrez Patrick, senior Reggie Carter was second on the team with seven tackles, his best performance of the season. Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter, who each registered just one assisted tackle against the Gamecocks, definitely have played better games this season.
Defensive Backs: B-
The defensive backs had two interceptions and broke up six passes, including J.R. Reed’s touchdown-saving deflection in the red zone. Still, the unit gave up a lot of yards as South Carolina came into the game with a plan to attack the edges. The Bulldog secondary and linebackers haven’t had an issue covering opposing tight ends all season, but South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst showed that a talented tight end can do damage against this group. Hurst caught seven passes, including a few key first-down receptions, for 93 yards. Quarterback Jake Bentley passed for 227 yards, on 36 attempts, completing 21 passes to receivers who often had a lot of separation from Georgia’s defensive backs. While the secondary perhaps had a fluke performance against the Gamecocks, it is concerning that both Bentley and Missouri quarterback Drew Lock had admirable passing outings. Still, the Bulldogs did not give up many long passes and there was only one touchdown through the air, the latter of which matters most.
Special Teams: B
Punter Cameron Nizialek averaged 46.7 yards per punt and had two of his three kicks downed inside the 20-yard line. The placekicking didn’t make much of an impact, but it really didn’t need to. Rodrigo Blankenship did his job, making a 20-yard field goal while three of his five kickoffs went for touchbacks. Granted one those that didn’t go for a touchback was an onside attempt, which while being aggressive, was a failure and gave the Gamecocks great field position. In the return game, the Bulldogs only had the opportunity to return a single punt, which ended up being a three-yard loss by Mecole Hardman.